Peter Collins has worked his way into my heart with this one. After all, he's included both of my favorites...circles and anagrams...in one puzzle.
The theme is revealed at 55A: Party snack (and a hint to this puzzle's circled letters) (mixed nuts). And from there, I was on a roll with the theme answers. By the way, each of the hidden mixed nuts can be found in the picture.
16A: Farberware set (saucepans).
22A: Coffee maker component (filter basket).
36A: Bothers (chews at). That expression sounds strange, although I've been known to say that something is chewing at me.
44A: Longtime ABC newsman (Sam Donaldson). I had the D*ON at the end, and his name popped into my head. I love when that happens.
There were several names I didn't know in this puzzle, but I was able to get them from the crosses.
15A: "Hard Cash" author Charles (Reade).
18A: Film director Morris (Errol).
29A: Huffington of the Huffington Post (Arianna). With the letters I had in place, I was able to flat out guess that...the crosses confirmed it.
35A: HBO's "Da __ G Show" (Ali).
26D: Susan who wrote the best seller "Compromising Positions" (Isaacs). I've never even heard of it.
27D: Sighter of the Pacific, Sept. 25, 1513 (Balboa). Another that I guessed with a few letters in place.
31D: 1939 Academy Award nominee Brian (Aherne). According to Wikipedia, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (his only nomination) for his role as Emperor Maximillian von Habsburg in "Juarez."
32D: Political hostess Perle (Mesta).
Favorite clues include 30A: Talk that might get one in trouble (sass), 39A: Post-vacation, say (rested), 57A: Bullet followers (items), 11D: Words with a familiar ring? (I do), 21D: Overseas (abroad)...I initially read it as oversees, so wanted it to end in an S, 25D: Get in trouble, in a way, with "on" (tattle), 28D: Yen or yuan (Asian money) and 53D: Red letters? (CIN)...which took me forever to get.
I absolutely loved 10D: Providers of life lessons (hard knocks)...a multiword answer, and K appears twice. What's not to love?
Other favorites include 31A: Embryonic membrane (amnion), 34A: Hitter of 511 lifetime home runs (Ott)...didn't realize that, 40A: Home tool maker (Skil), 43A: Twisted thread (lisle), 48A: Heraldic border (orle), 49A: Sony subsidiary (Aiwa), 5D: Like a certain court (papal), 9D: Mother __ (Teresa), 36D: Some bayou residents (Creoles) and 47D: Singer of the anthem "Sang till Norden" (Swede)..."Song of the North."
Dixie appears for the second time this week...at 46D, clued as [Classic song with the words "Look away! Look away! Look away!"]. It appeared as one of the [heart] clues on Valentine's Day.
I would be remiss in my boomer duties if I failed to point out 17D: "__ Coming" (1969 Three Dog Night hit) (Eli's). Maybe Wendy will serve up some Three Dog Night in her entertaining music blog. Check it out if you haven't already...and be sure to go back often.
My project is finished and on its way. While fundraising is a huge part of working in nonprofit administration, I'll be happy to get back to my old routine of hands-on help to those in need. There were two apartment fires in the last week, and we've been bombarded with requests for housing displaced families. Unfortunately, we only have two emergency units, and both were filled quickly. It's tough work sometimes...whatever we can do, it's never enough.
I'm off to bed...early morning blood draw to see how things are progressing. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.